Wedding String Ensembles Explained

Exactly what is a string quartet?

If you’re not clear about exactly what instruments are in a string quartet, you’re not alone. There’s a bit of confusion around the topic.

This article is a quick breakdown of who is included in a string quartet’s roster, and why it’s your #1 choice for a wedding in Paso Robles wine country.

The story begins with two violins:

Violin 1

Violin 1 is generally the group’s leader. This person should be a strong player, with excellent musical instincts. Usually this player covers the main melody of the music selections, but that’s not always the case.

Violin 2

This violinist fills “best supporting actor” role in the string quartet. This position calls for a strong team player who is very sensitive to his/her surrounding musicians. Along with viola and cello, violin 2 offer rhythmic support to the group, much like a drummer who maintains a solid beat.


This instrument is frequently confused with the violin. Though it looks similar, the sound is actually quite different. Viola adds a distinctive warm tone and requires a different set of skills compared to the violin. Often the violist shares the supporting actor role with the second violinist. Some violists are “switch hitters,” that is they can cover either the viola or a violin part.


The cello is easy to spot; it is many times the size of a violin and viola though it is still an official member of the violin family. Because of its size, the cello covers the deep, low notes of the music. So it’s much like the bass player in a rock band. But the instrument has a whole separate function: when played up high it can rival the violins in it ability to bring out a beautiful melody.

This “Fab 4” of string instruments, is the exact combination that The 805 String Quartet can bring to your Paso Robles, Santa Barbara or Santa Margarita wedding.

Five Reasons to choose a string quartet over a string duo or trio:

  • Superior resonance. Enough sound to fill outdoor areas such as wineries and large wedding venues.
  • Richer Harmony. A lot of music requires four or more voices to fully cover the chords that the composer or songwriter intended. Smaller groups often have to leave out important chord notes.
  • Vast Library of Music. By miles, the quartet offers you a bigger selection of songs and pieces. Whatever your request, 805 String Quartet likely can add it to your wedding playlist.
  • A better value. You’ll generally pay less per musician to hire a quartet, compared to smaller groups. The cost difference between a quartet and duo can be much less that you’d think. That’s because smaller ensembles have to work much harder to carry the day, and also there’s generally more prep time for the musician.
  • A more polished performance. Quartet members have spent countless hours working together to create a tight ensemble. Smaller groups are often cobbled together at the last minute, and can’t offer the same rich history of working together.